There is quite the uproar this week at South By Southwest. The technology conference held in Austin, Texas is always in the spotlight. This time however, the spotlight turned on Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. He repeatedly interrupted Megan Smith a former Google executive and the current US chief technology officer during a panel discussion. During the question and answer session Google’s Diversity Manager Judith Williams questioned Smith asking her how it felt to be interrupted. William’s question was met with cheers from the audience. Smith graciously answered the question by not focusing on the specific situation at hand, but instead discussing the issue in generalities claiming that she often is not heard in meetings the Huffington Post reported.
Studies show that women are interrupted more frequently than men. In panels or meetings this is a very passive way of exhibiting gender bias and power dominance. I often find that women are interrupted or talked over only to have a man share the same sentiments later, sometimes in the same meeting. When shared by a man, these ideas are often seen differently, listened to and sometimes even heralded. Not listening when a woman speaks is a tacit form of gender bias that woman have to fight every day.
Therefore, kudos to Williams for calling out what most would consider an unintentional rude act. I am clapping too because the audience recognized the gender bias that was occurring and created a supporting environment for it to be discussed further. Recognition is the first step to correction and that is why this incident is such a big deal.
As a working mom are you interrupted more often at work than your male colleagues? Tell us your story. Anonymous posts welcome.
Peace, Love & Being Heard,
Image Credit: Huffingtonpost.com